Occurs when blood vessels are damaged. External bleeding often looks more dramatic than Internal bleeding, but the latter can be more serious.
In a minor graze or bruise only the smallest blood vessels, the capillaries, are broken; blood seeps slowly into the surrounding tissues but soon clots, resealing the capillaries and stopping further leakage. If a vein is broken, dark red blood flows steadily from the wound; if the vein is large, blood loss must be stopped as it will not seal itself. If an artery is broken, bright red blood spurts from the wound in time with the pulse; arterial blood is under pressure because it is being pumped directly from the heart. Loss of blood from an artery must be stopped, or it will quickly lead to excessive blood loss and Shock.
Bleeding often looks more alarming than it is. A very small amount of blood goes a long way. Most adults can lose up to I litre (2 pints} of blood without danger to life. However, this amount can easily be lost into the tissues especially from a fracture of a large bone, so the blood loss that one can see is not always the true picture.
Only treat bleeding if you have established that the injured person has a pulse and is breathing. Check for, and remove, any foreign bodies in the wound and apply pressure directly over the site of bleeding using the thumb or squeezing the edges of the wound together. Cover with a clean dressing, and secure firmly with bandages.
If bleeding from a limb will not stop, apply pressure to either the brachial artery or the femoral artery. N.B. This procedure drastically cuts blood flow to distal tissues and can damage them if it is continued for more than 15 minutes at a time. Rest the patient and keep him or her still – this aids the body’s natural clotting mechanism. Raise the legs to maintain blood flow to the heart and brain if you estimate that more than 1 litre (2 pints) of blood has been lost.
Emergency bandages can be made from sheets, towels, pillowcases, scarves, cotton clothes, clean blankets, paper hankies, and many other items. If blood seeps through them, do not take them off – keep adding more layers. Check the person’s pulse every 5 minutes and jot it down. If the pulse rate is increasing check for other sites of external bleeding. If external bleeding has been controlled, increased pulse indicates internal bleeding.